LAWRENCE, Kan. – Oklahoma sophomore wide receiver Sterling Shepard was reminded of it all week. In the Red River Rivalry, he left with a goose egg. Zero catches.
His partner in crime, Jalen Saunders, didn’t fare too much better with three catches for 18 yards. The duo was back to their usual form Saturday afternoon with 11 catches for 109 yards in OU’s 34-19 victory at Kansas.
Saunders and Shepard spent a lot of time with OU quarterback Blake Bell this week getting in extra reps, but strangely enough, it was LaColtan Bester who jump-started the OU passing game.
Bester found Shepard for a 49-yard touchdown on a reverse pass late in the second quarter to give the Sooners their first lead of the game.
“I knew it was money as soon as I let it go,” Bester said. “It’s one of the best I’ve thrown, but we’ve been practicing that for a long time.”
There’s no denying Shepard and Saunders are two of the biggest playmakers for OU (6-1, 3-1) but both had been kept out of the end zone in back-to-back games.
Shepard wouldn’t have gotten his second touchdown if it wasn’t for a little help from Saunders blocking on the edge. Bell found Shepard on a quick pass, but Shepard had to wait for the play to develop before scoring from 10 yards out early in the third quarter.
“We were able to get our quick game going today,” Shepard said. “We just had to keep fighting. Things were a lot smoother today. Sometimes things like (last week) are going to happen. Can’t get down about it.”
OU coach Bob Stoops made sure he let his guys know how big of a play that was.
“I found them after that touchdown,” Stoops said. “Jalen is blocking like mad on that play. It was great execution.”
Shepard had seven catches for 82 yards, while Saunders had four receptions for 47 yards, including a 25-yarder that set up OU’s first score.
There were still missed opportunities in the passing game. Stoops knows it. Bell knows it, but Saturday was a baby step going forward following a horrible outing for Bell against the Longhorns.
He finished 15 of 25 for 131 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
“I have been throwing a little extra with them all week, trying to get more on the same page,” Bell said. “I thought we did a better job today connecting on some deeper balls.
“There is still a lot of plays out there to be made, but we are moving in the right direction.”
OU trailed 13-0 against the Jayhawks before bouncing back to earn its first road conference victory. The Sooners are back home next weekend against undefeated Texas Tech (7-0).